Natuzzi is using Microsoft HoloLens to give customers in London a glimpse of the future of retail

Shoppers will be able to use cutting-edge mixed-reality technology in one of Natuzzi’s UK stores to see how furniture would look in their home before they buy it.

Visitors to the retailer’s London store can use Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset to see a life-size hologram replica of a room in their house and place a chair or sofa in it. They can then change the furniture’s colour, material and finish, walk around it, rotate it and move it to a different area in the virtual room.

It uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud and intelligent edge services to offer customers a glimpse of the future of retail. Before customers leave the store they will receive a 360-degree rendering of their furniture layout, which they can see again on their phone or by using a virtual reality headset. This allows them to take the experience home and show it to their family.

Natuzzi, one of the world’s leading furniture brands, has initially launched the service in its Tottenham Court Road store but plans to start rolling it out globally by 2020.

A woman uses HoloLens in Natuzzi's London store

HoloLens lets users can walk around the objects they create and interact with them using gestures, gaze and voice

Pasquale Junior Natuzzi, Creative Director and Stylist, said: “The Natuzzi Augmented Store is a revolution in the interior design and decoration. We have worked with our partners Microsoft and Hevolus Innovation on new customer journey to give consumers an idea of their homes in a way that makes they fall in love. We let them walk their home virtually showing our collection without boundaries. The Mixed Reality system gives us an incredible opportunity to lower the stock and the inventory in our stores and increase the sales per square foot.”

Rather than put users in a fully computer-generated world, as virtual reality does, HoloLens allows users to place 3D digital models in the room alongside them. As the Windows-10-based product does not have wires or external cameras, or require a phone or PC connection, users can walk around the objects they create and interact with them using gestures, gaze and voice. HoloLens 2 offers an increased field of view, and users can touch, grasp and move holograms.

The first generation of HoloLens headsets has been used by NASA and surgeons at Imperial College London, as well the UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre to help companies unlock to benefits of mixed reality,

Leila Martine, UK Product Marketing Director of Mixed Reality at Microsoft, worked with Hevolus Innovation to create the HoloLens experience for Natuzzi. She said: “Providing a unique customer experience is critical in today’s competitive retail environment. At the same time, retailers are looking for ways to reimagine their physical and maximize in-store sales. Natuzzi’s new augmented store is a perfect example of how retailers can leverage mixed reality environments with Microsoft HoloLens to reimagine the in-store experience.”